The censors told us Earth doesn't exist, the robots told us we can't swear, Hubbard told us this is SATIRE, ladies and gents, Soltan Gris works for the C.I.A., Lombar Gris kidnapped Space Elvis and Earth is of critical importance to Voltan, the place that just told us it doesn't exist!
And without further ado, we get to read a fucking eternity of pages before we get to find out what this all is about!
Technically this is not chapter 9. No. This is chapter 1 of part two. Because this book needs to have parts. Shoot me,God. (my own pointless excercise in Tables of Content notwithstanding)
So in Chapter One the Second, Soltan Gris gets called to Lombar's office. And--oh noes!--Lombar is being nice to people. This, my dear friends, is always bad. But first something happens. Something not very important in terms of story, but something very, very important to the book. As in it swivels around and shoots the book in the face:
"Have a chank-pop," he said...he shoved the box towards me urgently and I managed to reach out and take a chank-pop and somehow get the top off. The lovely scent made a gentle explosion across my face, cooling it, waking me up.
It's not important now, but remember that sequence of events. Also, that Lombar, Soltan, Jettero and EVERY OTHER FUCKING CHARACTER becomes drunk frequently. You're going to scream at this book once the payoff hits home.
So Lombar gives the whole operation to insert an agent into Earth (Remember, we must be Rescued From Ourselves) over to Soltan. Who wisely shits himself and says its a bad idea. Lombar listens to his every protest, then says:
"Have another chank-pop."
And after Soltan has been drugged into joy, Lombar reveals two things:
1. The special agent will be none other than Space Elvis himself, Jettero Heller, AND
2. Mission Earth must fail.
So basically, we've got the dumbest set of morons in the fucking universe set against the Do Gooder of all Do-Gooders, and you know they're going to fail harder than a stoned skateboarder grinding his first rail. At this point, I am wishing to God that Jettero was our narrator. And in reality, that would totally have fixed this book. Instead...
So chapter ten. They go down into Spiteos, the prison so bad even the guards will rob 'ya, to try to convince the guy they kidnapped to work for them. Let me tell you what I would say under these circumstances:
Would I mean it? No. Would I book for the hills the second their back was turned? Yes. Do you think someone as good and honorable and Space Elvis-y as Jettero is going to manipulate these bozos like a magnet with iron fillings? You bet your ass he will.
Jettero is being kept in a cell with no furnishings or food, with handcuffs that give him continual electrical shocks.
It is implied there are more than one set of these.
The electric bills must be through the fucking roof is all I'll say.
Soltan sees the inhumanity of this--after all, he's got to get the guy on his side--and Lombar pulls the old, "This was a test to see if you are worthy to join us" routine out of the hat, which would work if it weren't already established that 1. only the wash-outs join the Voltarian CIA and 2. mayonnase is overqualified for the job by means of its intelligance. Soltan goes back inside and...
Jettero Heller starts trying to save Soltan. From himself. Using methods that would make a Jehova's Wittness go "Dude, it's called subtlty" And Soltan can't resist laying it on thick:
He really wasn't thinking about himself. He wasn't thinking about the pain of electric cuffs or hunger or thirst. He actually felt sad that another being could sink as low as I. His question had nothing to do with himself at all. Only me!
And this would have worked if we were in Jettero's fucking head to begin with. Or if Hubbard had shown us this rather than forcing it down our throats with a pallate knife.
Soltan asks a bunch of questions to pretend they're actively recruiting Jettero--for a job mayonnaise could do, remind--and then asks one real one:
"Why did you let the other player win?"
Jett replies that the other player's sweetheart was in the stand, and he would have been shamed if he'd lost, Annnnnnd this is when Jettero's selfless hero persona goes out the fucking window. I was going to rant on it before and I am damn well going to bring it up now. The other player lost. Obviously lost. As in he had no ammo left and had literally fallen to his knees in surrender. Jettero deliberately disqualified himself in a way that made it obvious he was disqualifying himself so the other player, who had stopped playing, would win by default.
That's fucking humilation no matter how you square it. If Jettero were truely the character Hubbard's trying to force down our throats, he would have thrown the game in a way that would make it look like he'd lost legitimately, rather than this "Oh, look how good I am at sports, how sportsman-like I am at letting this other player win. Look at me! Look at me!" shit that he pulled in the ring.
Soltan bemoans this fatal character flaw of compassion. Jettero will never be a good spy! But Lombar wants him. He's DOOMED!
And we're done. Tomorrow: fuck-all happens. Also, Hubbard kisses his own ass!
(Remember kids, Starbleached is free until the 10th, so go pick up your copy while you've got a chance. Coupon code is ST83W . Go get it.)